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Thomas Klein, Andrea Lengerer and Michaela Uzelac (2002)

An International Comparison of Living Arrangements Based on Partnership*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 27, 3/2002, p. 359-379, Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich, ISSN: 0340-2398

This article analyses the distribution of living arrangements based on partnership throughout the Western industrialised countries, as well as their development in a life course perspective. This study is based on data from the "Fertility and Family Survey". As a result, it has demonstrated with few exceptions an increasing spread of non-marital forms of co-habitation, in which (apart from the Southern European countries) the spread of consensual unions is probably the most important aspect of the change in living arrangements based on partnership. From the point of view of the life course, differing trends can be identified in the various countries, which make it possible to identify two main patterns: that of consensual unions as a preliminary to marriage, and that of consensual unions as a long-term alternative. It is also possible to come to the overall conclusion that binding forms of partnership as expressed by living together in a shared household show an occurrence that is almost astonishingly constant as the debate on increasing individualism continues, whilst the fall in the number of marriages is partly or completely compensated for by an increase in consensual unions. In most countries, therefore, it is possible to speak of a structural shift in the formal aspects of co-habitation, rather than a transformation in living arrangements as they are actually practised.

* Original title: Partnerschaftliche Lebensformen im internationalen Vergleich (full text in German only)

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